Summer Reads

Summer is a great time to grab a book and sit in a hammock and unwind or lie on a beach and get some free vitamin D while getting lost in a great book. This summer was busy at work, so I took the summer off from seminary to focus on some of our most impactful events of the year in kids and youth ministry as well as spend time with family enjoying each other. So a break from seminary means I can catch up on some books that I have gotten behind on. So if you are looking for a new book here are a few I am reading this summer.


The Deep Things of God – Fred Sanders
I started this book about three years ago I got about half way in then started Seminary. Such a challenging book as I realized that much of my understanding of God is so often how I perceive him rather than how he reveals himself to me. The background of the gospel is rooted in the Trinity.


All that Rises Must Converge – Flannery O’Connor
I have been on a O’Connor kick as of late to see what the fuss is all about. My thoughts so far. 1. She is a massively gifted writer.  2. She is a bit eccentric. 3. She connects her thoughts about God in her writing in unique and very interesting ways.



Uncle Tom’s Cabin – Harriet Beecher Stowe
I am reading this over the summer with my oldest son. Why we are reading this together? 1. Schools don’t assign classics anymore 2. Stowe was a devout christian with a clearly Christian worldview. 3. I find the fact that Lincoln credited this work as the impetus for the Civil war fascinating.


The Hardest Peace – Kara Trippet
I just finished this book. It was both beautiful and challenging. To read of Kara’s peace and God’s grace in the midst of life’s most challenging moments was humbling and difficult. Humbling because of her great faith and difficult because it brough up lots of fears I thought I had dealt with in the midst of my wifes battle with Cancer. Kara’s faith was rooted in a person not a feeling. This book was beautiful.


Confessions – St. Augustine translated by Sarah Ruden
This is my second time through Confessions and like most classics once you finished reading it for the first time you are prepared read it again for the first time. Sarah’s translation is extremely accurate and super accessible. I am grateful for the parts she has illumined that I missed the first time through and am also grateful that many more will read Augustine’s masterpiece because of the accessibility of this translation.


Love Thy Body – Nancy Pearcey
This fall we will be doing a sermon series in our youth ministry talking about what the bible has to say about many of the topics Pearcey covers in this book. So I will be reading this book to have the proper framework needed for that series.



Prince Caspian – C.S. Lewis
Just started this book with my oldest daughter. When my kids turn 8 I start reading them the Narnia series. I think I enjoy more than they do. Every time through I see new aspects of Lewis’ genius.



What books are you reading this summer?

The Zapped Curriculum Review

The people at Orange sent us a copy of Zapped to review. What a great product. I loved the packaging and the content is amazing. If you are thinking of doing something different curriculum wise or if your like us and like to mix it up for the summer Zapped is a great option. Here is what our kids pastor Josh Lange had to say about it.

The Zapped Curriculum Review

Just finished reviewing the Zapped Curriculum developed by the reThink group which produces 252Basics, My First Look, and XP3.  Zapped can be used as a VBS curriculum or as a Summer series.  We’ve decided to use this as a summer series in a large group environment with the hopes of giving our regular small group leaders July and August off.  This should be possible because of the flexibility that Zapped provides.
Zapped follows the life of Peter with the goal of learning what it means to be Zapped by God’s power.  Each week you are provided with music, videos, small groups, experiments (object lessons), take home elements that help drive home that weeks Bottom Line and the overall topic.
The drama video‘s are great.  You get attached to the characters.  The main idea is driven home in a modern context.  Actually, as my wife Rachel and I were watching it she actually said it reminded her of watching the BBC.  So that made it bit more engaging for her.  The storytellers do a great job of communicating each story of Peter’s life and driving us to a place of trusting God.  I love the overall emphasis of staying connected to God to not only walk through this life, but to become who He created us to be.  On the downside I would say that in the bulk of the stories there is not much in the way background music, but we plan on compensating with ProPresenter’s ability to play audio and video at the same time.  A capability which we have discovered too many times in unplanned situations.
One other concern I have is having enough material each week to cover service times that will range between an hour and fifteen minutes or more.  I am thinking about this however in the context that I would like to give small group leaders time off, multiple services (of different sizes), and our multi-campus structure.  I will have to be a little more creative where I have usually supplemented different service and campus capabilities/limitations with Feature Presentation Intro’s/Story/Outro’s/Movie and the Get Reel materials.  This however is not a deal breaker and the scenarios above cause my mind to move in this direction.
Like I said earlier one of the thing I love is the constant emphasis on trusting God and staying connected to him. It will stay memorable through the different experiments.  I am really looking forward to using this in July and August.  If you are looking to do a VBS or do something different this Summer this could be a great option.
Here’s a list of features that really stand out to me:
1. Video Elements (Opening/Closing Drama, Bible Story, Promo Video, Countdown Video, Zapped and Word Title Package, Live Lyric videos for worship)
2. All the planning elements you could think of whether you are running a VBS or Summer Series
3. Editable Text Files for Scripts (if you choose to not use video elements)
4. Organizational materials and suggestions for planning, recruitment of volunteers, and such)
5. All different types of graphics and such for T-shirts, ProPresenter, and printed materials

(Disclaimer a copy of Zapped was provided to us by Orange for review purposes.)